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Changing perspectives

How could we encourage new ways of doing things that overcome resistance to change and the anti-risk instinct?

The world is complex and not every challenge we face can be fully understood and resolved. As we emerge into a changed world after the pandemic we will face the need to change the way we do certain things as a result. However, any efforts at change face resistance. Some of us like things the way they are or the way they used to be. Others don’t like risk or things that are untried and untested. We will need to overcome resistance to change if we are to meet the needs of the future.   

There is a fear the old world will bite back, and we won’t have learnt; getting back to ‘normal’ as if it didn’t happen

Health Systems Innovation Lab Rebecca Malby

What we heard...

“There's a much greater awareness of those real issues and maybe reappraising not just how we spend our time and how we do our work, but how we value certain professions in society, like care workers... or people who work with people with disabilities… and who actually do very, very, very demanding and very challenging roles for not lots of money, and are not all together as much respected as perhaps I think they deserve.”

Birmingham resident

“Individual people need to feel supported in the present by maintaining their connections to the past which can offer a strong foundation for the future. A different attitude towards fiscal policy should be adopted, in order to restore people and their needs to a central position in post-Covid-19 planning. The arts, a means of communicating and connecting with people, need to be deployed to help to foster new attitudes and relationships within communities.”

Pauline Wood, artist educator, Greater Manchester

The pandemic hasn’t caused enough of a shift. Nothing stopped for very long.  You can tell by the traffic.  It slowed down for about two weeks from March into April. It’s started again. It seems like everyone around here has started to go to work already.”

Norfolk resident 

Indy Johar, Co-founder Project 00 & Dark Matter labs


Stats and facts

“We’re talking actual life and death now. What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn’t, your time would end soon - a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? Here are the scientifically studied odds: nine to one. That’s nine to one against you. How do you like those odds?” 

Source: Change or die, Alan Deutschman (2005) 


Our polling

Looking forward to after the pandemic, what would you most like to see happen in the future? 

That things will get back to normal as quickly as possible 


That the pandemic is used as an opportunity for significant changes in our society and our public services 



Food for thought 

“Within any system there are always ‘reasons why not’ to change: competing reward structures, custom and practice that form cultural norms, fears of sanctions from authority or humiliation in the media; or competing political imperatives. All contribute to immunity to change.”

Move fast and fix things, Rowan Conway et al (2018) 

“We resist change, but fear of the unknown can result in clinging to status quo behaviours - no matter how bad they are. Being is easier than becoming.”

The 10 rules of change, Stan Goldberg (2002) 

Change is the bedrock of life and consequently the bedrock of narrative.”

Into the woods: how stories work and why we tell them, John Yorke (2014) 

Effective leaders must be truth seekers, and that requires a willingness to understand truths other than our own.”

Stacy Abrams, American politician

“Lifequakes are massive, messy, and often miserable. They come at inconvenient times that usually make them more inconvenient. They aggregate. But they also do something else: they initiate a period of self-reflection and personal re-evaluation. They set in motion a series of reverberations that lead us to revisit our very identity. They force us to ask what we don’t ask often enough: what is it that gives me meaning and how does that influence the story of my life?”

Life is in the transitions, Bruce Feiler (2020)

Navigating the emerging future

  • Flotilla of different boats

    How can we support everyone to build greater resilience into their lives and communities and face the future with increased confidence?

  • Redistributed investment

    How could we resource a reconstruction effort that takes account of the needs of different people and places?

  • Redesigned systems

    What does it take to create the enabling conditions for people to come together and design systems that work for them?

  • Changing perspectives

    How could we encourage new ways of doing things that overcome resistance to change and the anti-risk instinct?

  • Crises on the horizon

    How can we acknowledge the diverse realities of our individual and collective losses?

  • Beacons of hope

    How could we enable every community to design its own future, to imagine what that might look like, and to have a powerful say about the decisions that impact them?